The “Mayors Talk” Forum Discusses Sustainable Energy Innovation in Bulgaria
The central theme of the forum was tools for implementing sustainable energy innovations, as well as the integrated national plan for energy and climate. The first day of the event focused on the lessons learned from the energy crisis and the opportunities for optimising the many related processes. The Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Angelina Boneva, shared that local authorities are the real agents of transformation and municipalities are always at the forefront to face the increasingly frequent economic and energy crises. According to Deputy Minister Boneva, the dialogue on multi-level governance has not yet taken place, and clear responsibilities and tools need to be defined for local authorities to implement more and better projects.
Tania Hristova, Mayor of Gabrovo, appealed to local authorities „to be bold and go beyond the standards, to be ambitious, technological and innovative, to look for complex solutions and new approaches to the new programmes“. She highlighted the key role municipalities play in achieving national objectives. Local authorities therefore insist on long-term technical assistance for regional development, renovation and renewable energy programmes. Among the speakers there was also the Executive Director of the Sustainable Development Agency, Ivaylo Aleksiev, who stressed the necessity for sound financing of energy efficiency policies and projects given the limited public resources. Dragomir Tzanev, Executive Director of EnEffect, mentioned that the campaigning nature of the programmes and the channelling of huge public resources to a limited number of beneficiaries can lead to market distortion and unfair consulting and construction practices.
The Mayors Talk Forum, Photo: ©EnEffect
The second day of the meeting continued with presentations of successful local practices and challenges in the field of energy efficiency in the context of the European Year of Skills. A representative from the municipality of Ѐspoo (Finland) presented interesting local sustainable practices and building renovation, and a representative from Haarlem (the Netherlands), talked about innovation public procurement. Participants from Energy Cities, Eurocities and REScoop.eu complemented the discussions with their knowledge and experience in the field of sustainable energy. The energy cooperative initiative of Gabrovo Municipality, which is expected to start this autumn, was presented, as well as a project to renovate the swimming pool of Pavlikeni Municipality, winner of the annual EcoEnergy competition. Of particular interest was the discussion about the gaps in the education system and the difficulties to find qualified staff to implement renovation projects, which was reported as a huge problem both locally and nationally.
The event concluded with the announcement of this year’s EcoEnergy competition. The Renocally project (funded by EUKI) was presented as well as a proposal for the awarded municipalities (Pavlikeni, Gabrovo, Burgas, Smiadovo, Dobrich and Krushari) to do 10 energy audits with building renovation roadmaps, and help them develop financial plans for building renovation. Municipalities warmly welcomed the initiative and, as next step, they will propose buildings to implement the building renovation passports.